In my recent travels to various nurse educator conferences, I have had several conversations with would-be authors, querying me about the status of their recently submitted manuscripts. As a someauthor, I know how frustrating it can be to finally that manuscript in, then wait three or four months, or sometimes longer, for our response. Here's what happens during that period.
The manuscript is received at Slack Incorporated, where identifying author information is removed and a manuscript number assigned. All manuscripts are sent to me for preliminary review - for fit with the Journal's mission, for adequacy and clarity of writing style, and for overall quality. Approximately 20% are rejected at this point.
Many of these manuscripts are quite clearly papers written for a class assignment - which would be fine if they contributed to new knowledge or understanding in nursing education - but many do not. Others are obviously selected pages from a master's thesis with little or no revision to conform to acceptable manuscript style. We are happy to publish the results of master's or doctoral research, but that huge tome has to be distilled down to the most salient aspects and limited to 15 pages. Other manuscripts are so poorly written that their major points are totally obscure.
In each of these cases, securing the assistance of an editor or an individual with publication experi enee prior to submitting the manuscript would probably greatly improve its chances of eventual publication. Still other manuscripts address topics that are just not relevant for the Journal, e.g., clinical topics that may be important for nurse educators to know about but are not about nursing education per se; articles on staff development programs.
For the remaining 80% of the manuscripts, I assign reviewers from our Editorial Board or list of expert reviewers. These individuals are chosen on the basis of their expertise in nursing education research and assigned to the review of a particular manuscript because of relevant methodological or substantive expertise. We receive over 300 manuscripts a year. Our reviewers review, on the average, at least one manuscript a month. They often write extensive commentary in an effort to help authors improve the quality of the manuscript. While authors may not always agree with the reviewers' comments, they almost always find them helpful in recognizing which portions of the manuscript may not be clear and therefore in need of revision.
Of all manuscripts submitted, approximately 15% are accepted for publication with minimal or no revision recommended; another 35% show good promise for publication, and authors are given suggestions for how to revise the manuscript. Unfortunately, some never resubmit their manuscript. The remaining 30% are rejected after peer review.
The reasons for rejection of manuscripts by peer reviewers vary. In the Briefs section, the most common reason for rejection of a manuscript is that the topic has already been explored or described extensively in the literature and the article adds little new information. For major manuscripts reporting on research, the following are common issues identified:
* The study has limited generalizability and limited potential for promoting replication studies or contributing in other ways to new knowledge. For example, surveys of graduates from single schools regarding their satisfaction with the program or other measures of program quality are seldom recommended for publication unless the manuscript focuses on aspects of the study that might be